11 February 2011

"My Funny Valentine"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Why did Mary give you a picture of a rake?" Fred asked.

"Why did Mary give me poisonous cupcakes last week?" John examined the crude drawing. The medium appeared to be permanent marker on Galactic Survey Corps stationery. "I'm not sure that is a rake. Could be a hand."

"A hand with nine fingers."

"The Gorshiom aren't good with numbers. And we introduced them to representational art, remember?"

"Maybe it's edible. All her other gifts have been edible."

"That's debatable, especially after those cupcakes."

"I guess she's moved on to more durable tokens of her affection."

"We can only hope." John dropped the picture into a plastic bin labeled MODERN ARTIFACTS. "Maybe I can ask Mary to help us dig."

"Speaking of digging," Fred said, "where are you at with that anthropologist? Landy?"

"Landry," John corrected. "I'm getting nowhere. Every time I start to ask her out, she thinks I'm asking for some kind of scheduling favor and puts up her defenses."

"What does anthro have to do with scheduling?"

"Don't you read the bulletins? She was elected Leader last month."

"Huh." Fred stood and stretched. "If only I cared about expedition politics."

"You should," John said. "The council just voted to—where are you going?"

"Got a date," Fred said, pulling pants on over his undershorts.

"Really. Who's the lucky girl?"

"Amanda Landry."

John blinked. "The expedition leader's daughter."

"Yeah, you know, it wasn't weird before you told me Landry had been elected Leader," Fred said. "It was also more fun when I thought her last name was Landy, because then she'd be Mandy Landy."

"How old is she?"


John frowned. "How old are you?"

Fred shrugged. "Does that really matter? And this coming from the guy who's shtupping an alien?"

"It wasn't sex!" John said. "We don't even have the right parts!"

"Whatever you call it."

"It was a misunderstanding, and it was just that once!"

Fred put up his hands. "Look, man, all I'm saying is, glass houses. No judgments. We cool?"

John nodded. "I just want you to know, I'm doing this for your own good."


John punched Fred in the crotch. Fred doubled over and whimpered.

"I know it hurts now," John said, "but you'll thank me later."

"I'm going to kill you later," Fred grumbled.

"Amanda Landry is a slut," John said. "You'd know that if you paid attention to camp gossip. And anyone dumb enough to sleep with her gets shafted by her mother afterward. Equipment, comms, rations—any supplies you want or need, she can withhold. Trust me, two minutes in heaven are not worth six months of grief."

Fred hobbled to the cabin door. "I'm going to go have a nice dinner now. Then I'm going to find a large blunt object and wait until you're asleep."

"You know, Mary's got a sister," John said. "You want me to introduce you?"

The door slammed shut.


Photo: Ayla's Rake by Don LaVange (via GIMP's "Predator" filter), October, 2009